Catalans Abroad

Albert Grañó & Aurèlia Marsal

Albert is a consultant. Aurèlia works in a Montessori school

In the heart of Europe

Why did you leave Catalonia?
We were looking for better job opportunities and we decided to look abroad. I’d already lived in Italy for four years and we love to travel and discover new cultures. At that time our daughter was almost two years old, so we felt it was the right time to move to a different country.
Why did you choose Brussels as the place where you live and work?
Actually, to move here had never been our first choice but Albert was recruited by a good company established in Brussels and we decided to give it a try.
How long have you lived there?
We’ve lived here for five years, even though during this time we spent a year in London.
Are you happy with the job opportunities you found in your adoptive country?
Yes, very happy. We’ve found that here there are many more opportunities to develop your professional career and work with people from all over the world. This city also provides the right environment to work in as a freelance and start your own company.
What do you think is the best thing about living there?
Brussels is literally at the heart of Europe. Within two hours, either by train or car, you can reach four other capitals, such as London, Paris, Amsterdam and Luxembourg. Interesting cities like Cologne, The Hague or Utrecht are also just a stone’s throw away.
What would you most like to change?
The weather, even though it’s nice to still feel the four seasons of the year, sometimes even altogether on the same day.
What do you miss most from home?
Spending our Sundays with the family, especially thinking that our daughter is growing up without being with them as often as we’d like. Thanks to technology we can close the gap of being far away from them.
What do you take with you as a present from your new home when you go back to your own country?
Chocolate and beers! Belgium is truly the land for those. It’s difficult to choose just one kind of beer or chocolate to bring home.
What characterises your local neighbourhood?
Our neighbourhood is not in the city centre. It’s very quiet and we can enjoy having a nice garden as well as some parks around us. We share the neighbourhood with squirrels, foxes and a great variety of birds.
What is the best experience you’ve had in your adoptive country?
Probably the best experience for us is to be able to see our daughter growing up in an international environment like this, with friends from all over the world, and already speaking four languages quite naturally.
Do you plan to go back to Catalonia?
We go back during out holidays but we are not planning to move back to Catalonia for now.
There are more opportunities to develop your career and work with people from all over the world Interesting cities like Cologne, The Hague or Utrecht are also just a stone’s throw away

CATALANS ABROAD brussels (belgium)

SOME SUGGESTIONS:

Where are the best places for visitors to stay?
Gant, Anvers, Bruges, Bastogne and the Ardennes are beautiful and recommended places worth discovering.
What do you consider to be the highlights for any brief visit for the first time?
The Grand Place and the city centre of Brussels, together with the Sablon area with its art galleries and the Mount of Arts where you can find very interesting museums. And, of course, the Atomium, as it’s a Brussels icon. For us, visiting the Neuhaus chocolate factory shop and discovering local beers in old fashioned bars, such as La Morte Subite, are also a must for anyone visiting.
And if visitors have more time or make a return visit?
If they have more time, heading east they can enjoy the Ardennes and Bastogne, where remarkable events took place during WWII. Cities like Leuven, Gant, Anvers and Mechelen combine traditional architecture with a lively atmosphere by the canals. To the west, they can see the North Sea and the dunes at Knokke.
Can you recommend a place to have lunch with friends?
Cook & Book, a great book and comics store, as well as a restaurant.
When’s the best time of year to plan a visit?
May to July, the days are longer and the weather can be quite nice. It’s the best time to enjoy the parks and the city life. If you like winter markets, Christmas is also a good time to come and explore them.
What’s the best kept secret about the area?
The art galleries in the Sablon area can surprise you, as they house some quite unique masterpieces.
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